From New Orleans to Paris and festivals around the globe, this trio plays with some of the best in swinging jazz today. David Blenkhorn (John Faddis, Scott Hamilton, Lee Konitz), Sébastien Girardot (Lillian Boutté, Evan Christopher, Cecile McLorin Salvant) and Guillaume Nouaux (Donald Harrison Jr, Chuck Berry, Leroy Jones) have a fresh take on these standards of new orleans jazz combining elements of creole, blues and funk. It is for good reason that this trio is Evan Christopher’s preferred rhythm section as it developed its personal sound informed by his knowledge of the culture and music of New Orleans (he also writes the liner notes). This group has already proven itself talented accompanists to some of the top jazzmen and is ready to take centre stage in their own right.
Augustin BONDOUX & Patrick FREMEAUX
Evan Christopher – clarinet
David Blenkhorn – guitar
Julien Brunetaud – piano
Sebastien Girardot – bass
Guillaume Nouaux – drums
When Evan Christopher came to Paris with his clarinet and formed a band to perform New Orleans music, it was natural to think of Sidney Bechet. “In Sidney’s Footsteps” was recorded at Mesa studios in early 2006, during Christopher’s artist-in-residence at the invitation of the city of Paris just months after the city of New Orleans was decimated by catastrophic flooding. He used the opportunity to form his “Jazz Traditions Project,” a band of the best France-based musicians deeply commited to New Orleans music, to perform in Paris clubs and European festivals.
The “Jazz Traditions Project” also recorded a live CD, “Introduction: Live at the Meridien” at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Club, and was active until 2008, when Christopher returned to New Orleans and focused his energies on touring internationally with his popular Django à la Créole. STR Digital agreed to release the studio material as the third volume of Christopher’s “Clarinet Road” series but had to wait until 2012 because of other CD releases.
“In Sidney’s Footsteps,” marks the return of the “Jazz Traditions Project” performing music that celebrates and aims to extend the legacy of New Orleans traditions. With Sèbastien Girardot (bass), David Blenkhorn (guitar), and Guillaume Nouaux (drums) the CD features spirited versions of Bechet gems, some carefully chosen standards and even a Boogie-Woogie composed for the session to feature guest pianist Julien Brunetaud who fills out the group whenever possible.
More often what usually comes to mind when you think of a jazz duo, is a combination of voice with instrumental accompaniment. Although at the end of the tracks, within this delightful selection of various interpretations, an unpretentious vocal is rendered by guitarist David Blenkhorn. This collaboration between guitar and contra-bassist Sebastien Girardot delivers a fresh, captivating selection of songs that epitomize musical intimacy.
The disc opens with a fresh arrangement on an old spiritual and mainstay within the traditional jazz repertoire, Just A Closer Walk With Thee. Beginning with a rubato intro, guitar and arco bass, they dance into a jubilant stroll establishing a definitive tempo in 3⁄4 time. With bass switching to pizzicato, a bass line and strong groove is maintained throughout, allowing the guitar to embellish on the melody, expanding rhythmically and harmonically to a climax, with the theme being stated once again, exiting the way they entered and finally vamping out, a tempo, this time with the jaunty bass line being established by the guitar.
I could go on and on about how nice this recording turned out. But when music is great, there’s really no room for criticism. Simply a smile of joy is an appropriate riposte. Finally, I thought it was necessary to set the mood with a detailed description of the opening track, which in my opinion gives a clear expectation of what is yet to come. Besides, there should be some space left for words from someone else who enjoys this recording as much as I do. Well done, my gifted brothers!